Trauma as senior citizens, others struggle for NIN registration
Caution against COVID-19 infection and its spread was thrown to the wind at Agege Local Government Maternity Centre, one of the NIN registration points, as Nigerians in thousands gathered at a hall to get their names registered with a view to beating the expiry date for registration.
Senior citizens were not left out as some of them came with their walking sticks to beat government deadline.
Crowd clustered in a big hall, with many of them not wearing face masks, and everyone struggling to hear their names as the officials called names of those that came early to register.
Apart from the flagrant disregard for the government’s precautions against the pandemic, the fact that the peoples’ lives were being endangered in their bid to get to the registration points without minding the attacks of hoodlums who paraded dark areas for their victims cannot be compromised.
A young man, who pleaded anonymity, said he got to the registration point around 3.30 am and was number six.
“I had to leave home very early and I got to this place around 3.30 am and was in number six. I would not know when people from number one to five got here. Of course, the gate of the registration centre was not opened and we had to stay outside the gate at the mercy of miscreants. The trauma and danger we are facing to get this registration of a thing done are unquantifiable.”
Another young woman with a baby said she got to the place at about 5.00 a.m.
“I had to leave home very early and got here at about 5.00 a.m. and was in number 106.
“I did not have my bath before leaving home, neither did I have time to take care of my baby. I had to risk crossing the railway line where one could be attacked. After registering my number, I left for home to go and have my bath and clean up my daughter. One cannot explain what we are passing through to carry out this exercise,” she said.
It was an ugly scene seeing senior citizens in their 70s and 80s struggling with young men and women to get registered. It was a pitiable condition to also see pregnant women making frantic efforts to have their way, whose lives were apparently being endangered by virtue of their condition.
It was quite clear that the crowd was too much for the centre to handle with only one computer, hence people were not answered automatically the first day they came for registration as they had to be given a new date.
According to one of the early comers, “they only attend to one to 100 people on the list, while anyone who arrived after the first 100 will not be attended to. Even those 100 who attended to are only given a new date to come again. This invariably will make people continue to endanger their lives, leaving home very early.”
While lamenting, one of those who spoke to The Guardian said, “if it were elections and voting, the government would know how to create boots, but when it came to a situation like this, they put people’s lives in danger.”
Meanwhile, scores of youths yesterday protested against the directive of the Federal Government on NIN registration.
The youths said they were not against the registration of NIN, but opposed to the registration at the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The protesters, that have placards with inscriptions such as “NIN registration is a way of spreading COVID-19,” “Stop registration of NIN or you wipe us out,” “Release our brothers and sisters languishing in jail over EndSARS protest,” “FG should stop speaking with two sides of the mouth,” said they were tired of the ongoing NIN registration and the threat by service providers to disconnect people’s lines.
The convener, Ayo Ademuluyi, accused the government of speaking with both sides of the mouth, campaigning against the spread of COVID-19 but supporting thousands coming out for the NIN registration.
According to him, “the NIN mobile app is redundant and obsolete; not working. So, how are they threatening to disconnect people’s lines when their machines are not working? This is nothing but encouraging the spread of COVID-19 by the same government that preaches social distancing and total observance of other COVID-19 protocols.
“With the deaths recorded in this second wave of COVID-19, it is enough for the Federal Government to have a rethink on the deadline on NIN registration. In a clear term, we are opposed to the deadline of NIN registration. We say unequivocally that the government should stop further registration till the COVID-19 pandemic is no more.
“The continuation of the registration is encouraging the spread of COVID-19 and any death recorded will be placed on the feet of the Federal Government. If you visit registration centres, you must weep for the country as thousands troop out for the registration without obeying COVID-19 protocols.”
The placard-carrying protesters, who took over the Yaba area of the state, also demanded the immediate and unconditional release of those arrested during the October 1, 2020, EndSARS protest.
Ademuluyi said: “Today, January 20, 2021, marked the 90th day after the Lekki massacre and we shall never forget that soldiers of the Nigerian Army, paid by taxes of Nigerian citizens, went to Lekki Toll Gate and murdered innocent citizens. At the same time, they didn’t stop at the Lekki Toll Gate alone, they went to the streets of Lagos and Nigeria and cut the lives of people in their prime.”